Due to the evolving nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has moved to hold many meetings virtually and has postponed others.
“In the current situation, where public health issues are at the top of the agenda, we should not forget other ongoing global challenges. We will do our best to maintain the momentum of the process to develop the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the Acting Executive Secretary of the CBD.
The CBD Secretariat said in a statement on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 that it is keeping the situation under review and would continue to apply all the science-based guidance and advice that is received from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and all relevant national authorities.
According to the UN body, several critical and time-sensitive meetings are being organised virtually. They are listed to include:
- Meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources, March 17-20, 2020.
- Meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Risk Assessment, from March 31 to April 3, 2020.
- Seventeenth meeting of the Compliance Committee under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, April 15-17, 2020.
- Fourteenth meeting of the Liaison Group on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, April 20 to 23, 2020.
- Third meeting of the Compliance Committee under the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing, April 21 to 23, 2020.
As of 13 March, and in consultation with the UN Environment Programme, the following meetings have been cancelled or postponed:
- Follow-up workshop of biodiversity related Conventions on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (Bern 2), originally scheduled for March 25-27, 2020 in Bern, Switzerland.
- Thematic Consultation on Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, originally scheduled from March 30 to April 1, 2020 in Bern, Switzerland.
- The Global Taxonomy Initiative Forum, originally scheduled for April 7 to 9, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.
With regards to the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-24), originally scheduled to hold from May 18 to 23, 2020 in Montreal, and the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI-3), scheduled for May 25-30 2020 in Montreal, the CBD Secretariat is currently exploring alternative scenarios with the COP (Conference of the Parties) Presidency, the Chairs of the SBSTTA and SBI meetings, Canadian authorities and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
The CBD Secretariat said it would provide further updates on new dates in due course.
“This pandemic reinforces the need for solidarity and respect for all people,” said Ms Mrema. “Even if we are inconvenienced and delayed through the COVID-19 outbreak we should ensure that multilateral approaches to solving our global problems such as biodiversity loss are strengthened.”